5 Rituals to Celebrate Balance and Invite Renewal At Autumn Equinox
This weekend we celebrate balance. The light is perfectly poised between day and night, each one exactly equal.
In Northern Hemisphere we’re turning toward the dark time, the fallow period of regeneration, of going within and plumbing the recesses of our creative souls. From this day forward our nights will grow longer, with the incremental difference growing larger each day until Solstice.
Of course for those of you below the equator, the opposite is happening – you are welcoming the longer, greener days of spring, and expanding into the outward period of the summer months.
Whether you are looking toward the growing light, or contemplating the coming cozy evenings by the fire, we are all affected by this shift as the sun makes its slow turn around our planet.
We are all intimately connected with the movements of the Earth. No matter how removed we may be from the soil, even those who live and work in high rise buildings are influenced by the movements of the planet – whether they tune into it or not.
When you do tune in, you give yourself a profound gift. You acknowledge your connectivity to all living beings, and to the Earth itself.
This can open up doorways for your own growth, progress and transformation as, assisted by the natural cycles of this planet we share, you purposefully harness that energy for your own life shifts.
In ancient times, before high rise buildings, electric lights, airtight houses and computers, humans the world over acknowledged the cycles of nature, and the seasonal shifts.
It’s amazing to me that in various different cultures on so many diverse spots on the planet humans somehow knew when solstices and equinoxes occurred. Without telescopes and GPS, the stars and the sun told them when to acknowledge and celebrate these transitions.
How To Use The Energy Of Equinox
Autumn Equinox is an optimal time to clarify your intention and direction. Where do you want to be come spring? This is a time to re-envision and re-energize your goals.
The energy of this season invites long term planning and incubation. Seeds of ideas planted now can burst forth next spring, transformed and strengthened by their time in the unconscious.
Use this energy of the Equinox to connect with your inner knowing.
This is a season of roots. Roots take their time to grow, sweeten and develop their nourishment. They spend months deep in the earth, hibernating and slowing growing.
During fall we become like those roots, it’s good to make time for sleep, rest and renewal. If you allow this time for replenishment you’ll be more primed to tune the wisdom – that is ready to rise and flourish now at midlife.
Use the power of nature’s cycles to open to your own deep knowing and intuition. Some ways to let this in are to write, meditate, walk in nature and savor the loveliness of the changing colors.
Autumn and the equinox signal a time to open to and appreciate our blessings and bounty.
That’s why in some places it’s called “Thanksgiving” as the last of the harvest is gathered and stored for the dark, cold months of winter.
So let’s give some thanks for the inner rewards we may be starting to harvest and to look for how we will use these for good. Ask your guidance how you can give back.
If you can, get outside and experience nature this Equinox weekend.
Celebrate the turning colors, the deepening colors of the berries, the ripening seeds. Pick up a few treasures while you are walking to bring some bits of nature into your home – some leaves, a few acorns, some dried berries perhaps.
Fill a basket or set up your own little home altar to honor the seasonal shift.
5 Easy Rituals To Celebrate And Honor The Equinox
Rituals don’t have to observe any particular spiritual tradition or religion. They are simply an intentional series of actions and can be done alone or in a group.
The following ideas are personal rituals (that can certainly be shared with others) to allow you to set an intention and explore your own personal pathway to renewal, creativity and replenishment.
1) Plant some bulbs.
You don’t need a yard or garden to do this, or to take lots of time digging a bed. All you need is a small outdoor space and a good-sized pot. You can find big plastic pots at garage sales or thrift stores, or you can invest in a lovely vessel for your flower bulbs of intention.
Visit your local garden shop or farmer’s market and pick up a few daffodil or tulip bulbs – or any of your favorite spring or summer flowers. Grab a small bag of potting soil too if you don’t have any.
Fill your pot with soil, and bury each bulb at least an inch into the moist dirt. As you place each bulb into the dark soil, state your intention for those things you want to incubate and gather energy during the winter months.
Water when you are done and let your bulb-y intentions gather their own momentum as they hibernate in the soil. Some months after Solstice they will send up their first shoots and you will be reminded of your intentions and the work you wish to do as the seasons turn.
2) Space clearing
Now is the time to throw out or give away unwanted things that are no longer useful or hold bad associations. Releasing these objects will assist energetically in your desires to let go of those thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve you.
Since we spend much more time indoors during the winter months, clearing your living space of ‘downer’ objects will free up your vitality and energy to focus on what matters most to you.
I don’t know why there’s all that hype about ‘spring cleaning.’ A fall cleaning is much more appropriate since we spend more time indoors during the colder months.
Get out the duster and a bucket of soapy water and make a ritual out of cleaning your space to allow fresh, new energy to flow through.
When you are content with your efforts, smudge each room in your house or use saltwater or sound to clear out the psychic energy. While you are cleaning and smudging, state your wishes and intentions, or sing your favorite songs to invite clarity and harmony into your home and into your life.
3) Find Your Balance
Take a closer look at the balance in your life. How do you balance your personal needs with your commitments to the outside world? How do you receive and how do you give?
Are they in balance? Or does one side need some adjusting?
To get a visual of this you might draw a picture of a scale and make a list or draw pictures underneath each side of the scale.
Here’s a balancing exercise from Cait Johnson, co-author of Celebrating the Great Mother.
Stand quietly with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees flexed, and your eyes closed. Is your body still and rooted, or does it need to sway or adjust in order to be fully balanced? Give yourself a moment to come into balance.
Raise your arms and hold them open, stretched out to the sides, for a few moments. Feel how difficult it is. Now begin a gentle movement, bringing your hands in toward your chest, then out again to the sides, a rhythmic motion of opening and closing like the beating of a bird’s wings.
Feel what a relief it is to have the balance of both motions, both open and closed.
Now give some deep thought to the beauty of the balance between day and night, activity and rest. How can you honor your own need for balance?
4) Make a Dream Pillow
Take advantage of the longer nights and the regenerating power of your dreams. As stated above if you enjoy some seasonally appropriate rest and replenishment your ideas, creativity and intentions will blossom even more vibrantly.
And you dreams – ah, your dreams! They can deliver more wisdom than you can find in a hundred books, because it is the wisdom from your own deep knowing.
A dream pillow is a fun way to invite epic dreams. Include mugwort in your dream pillow for dreaming, and add flowers and herbs such as roses, lavender, chamomile and hops for scent and relaxation.
If you’re not so crafty, or don’t want to take on a sewing project – no problem! Just fill a small muslin bag with the herbs and tuck it into your pillowcase. You can even just place them in a square of cloth and tie it with a ribbon or rubber band.
However you put together your dream pillow, just do it with some mindfulness. Speak your intentions aloud and infuse your creation with your wishes for your dream state.
5) Goals and Gratitude Ritual
Prepare for and celebrate the Autumn Equinox by aligning your life goals with the energy of the season.
This ritual (adapted from http://www.michaelkane.org) will help clarify where you would like to be headed during the next twelve months. It allows you to join with the energetic impulse of the Fall Equinox to generate momentum in your life.
First off, prepare by getting out a piece of paper answering the following four questions:
1. What new things have happened in the last year that you are happy with and want to keep in your life? This can include people or other changes.
2. What is currently present in your life that you are fairly happy with, but you wish would work better or flow more abundantly?
3. What have you been working on that has not yet manifested (shown up) for you?
4. What is not in your life that you would like to be, but that you have not yet begun to actively work on?
Take as much time as you need to consider these questions, even a few days if necessary. You will still harness the Equinox energy even if you do the actual ritual a few hours or days after it has passed.
Next, on a fresh piece of paper, go through your list from question #2 and list them in order of priority and importance in your life. Do the same for questions 3 and 4 if you wrote down more than one answer.
Now set the stage for your ritual. You will be speaking aloud so if possible find a private space where you won’t feel embarrassed or weird about it.
Light a candle. If you want you can set out some sacred objects to represent the season, the changes you want to incorporate and the gratitude you feel. Some leaves, seedpods or other objects from nature, a special crystal, whatever feels appropriate to you is fine.
Take a few deep, cleansing breaths, and then get out your list.
Give thanks for everything you listed in your answer to the first question by saying aloud: “I am grateful for ______________”
Looking at your prioritized list from the second questions, say: “I lovingly ask that __________ (read your list aloud) flow more abundantly into my life.”
Next say: “I ask that ______________ (state your response from #3) enter my life.”
Take your answer to question #4 and say: “I ask for guidance and courage to bring ____________ into my life experience.”
Once you finish you may find that you want to keep talking or write in your journal. Allow yourself time to fully explore your thoughts and feelings and incorporate any wisdom that arises.
I hope at least one of these rituals calls to you and gives you a chance to honor this turn of the seasons. Come on over and share your own Equinox insights and rituals on the Facebook page – or just pop on over to say ‘Hi.’ It’s our place to share our power surging wisdom!
I leave you with a song to celebrate the turning of the seasons:
Mother of Darkness, Mother of Light
Earth beneath us, soul in flight,
Songs of love and love of life,
Guide us to our home.
[…] a time to give thanks for the abundance we already have in our lives. Here are some great ideas for rituals to honor Fall Equinox […]Leave a Comment
Sarah, these are all great ideas! I particularly like the second one about space clearing. There is nothing that rejuvenates me like culling does. But I hadn’t thought about smudging the space afterwards. I think I’ll just give that a try!
@BobbiEmel Yes, I think you’ll be amazed at the difference a good smudge makes in your space Bobbi. Great to do as the seasons change, and really any time. Glad you enjoyed these ideas and happy clearing!
Great post. Re:”Aligning your life goals with the energy of the season” – Hard for nomads who follow the sun 🙂 This is my first winter after 3 years of constant summer!
@Tal_Gur LOL, that sounds like a pretty fun way to live – following the summer! But now if you’re going to do a winter you’ll have renewed appreciation for your next three years of summer! Glad you enjoyed this post even though you may not be grounded into the seasonal shifts as much as us folks who are sticking to one place. These rituals can be done any time, seasonal changes or not!
Wonderful post! I love the simplicity of the balance exercise, and the Goals and Gratitude ritual looks like a wonderful process.
@medaverowley Thanks for stopping by Dave! I hope you get a chance to try a couple of these little rituals. The balance exercise is kinda fun.
Wonderful post! I love the simplicity of the balance exercise, and the Goals and Gratitude ritual looks like a wonderful process.
Sarah – this is absolutely my favorite post. The autumn is always a bitter sweet season for me. I love the crisp air, the slant of the sun, amazing fall colors here in Michigan. But the long winter is approaching soon and my energy level dips with the weather. Today I did clean out my closet (moving sumer out and winter clothes in), took a long walk in the woods and spotted a flock of wild turkeys, read a book and made slow cooker meal for dinner. All of these are signs of fall. I will refer to this post again and will definitely take time for the ritual. This was great.
@JaneRobinson So glad it resonated for you Jane! And I love the images of your autumn walk and equinox experience in Michigan. You surely experience the seasonal changes in a big way over there! Hope you were able to do one of these rituals and that it sweetened up the feel of this shift into autumn for you!
I live in the southern hemisphere where spring has sprung. Have just spent the previous few months,reading, writing, taking a walk in the park to catch some winter sun. This post resonated with me, I’ve become aware that I’m coming out of incubation. In the past couple of weeks I’ve picked the first veges from my vege patch, have been spring cleaning and sent my first blog post into the www.
@Priska I just love imagining my friends enjoying the opposite season. I’m glad the post resonated with you even though you are on the opposing equinox, at the lovely threshold of spring, budding flowers, and some new vegies in your garden! Congratulations on your first blog post!
“cozy evenings by the fire”
Ah… maybe in your house! I don’t have a fireplace 🙁 Hopefully I move to someplace warm before it gets too dark and cold.
Fall cleaning huh. That’s a good idea. Okay, I already started (came back to this comment). If I didn’t start now… there’s no way I’d get the motivation to do it later. I’m not a natural cleaner.
@HappierHuman Haha, well I don’t have a fireplace right now – I don’t even have a permanent home. But it’s nice to imagine those cozy evenings near a flickering fire 🙂 And hey, that’s cool that you just left the comment and got into some fall cleaning right then and there! That’s what I call taking action. Way to motivate!
I love this post, Sarah. It’s funny, just this morning I was thinking of our connection to nature and its/our cycles. So often I feel like we fight it – like we don’t have time to slow down and cozy up. I love that you gave some great suggestions to instead honor the change. I will definitely be doing them – I especially love the dream pillow; I’ve been having some crazy awesome dreams lately! Imagine with the pillow… 😉
@ZenCaffeine So glad this post caught right when you were already meditating on the earth’s natural cycles Kaylee! And you’re so right, in our busy production-driven society we get no encouragement to slow down and simply experience what nature is telling us. Especially during these slowing down times. That’s why these types of rituals are so helpful to align ourselves with the nature and her cycles. Yep – just wait till you slip a mugwort-filled dream pillow under your pillow. Those dreams they’ll come a calling…. Have fun!
Great post, Sarah. I can definitely relate to “space cleaning.” My husband and I just recently decided to downsize our living space to a smaller home. So many things to pass onto people who can use them more than we do. The process seems overwhelming but at the same time very freeing!
@DrPriceMitchell I so agree! I started a decluttering mission about a year and a half ago when I returned home from two months of living out of a backpack in Southeast Asia. I felt so much lighter and freer during that time and it made me realize how much even those treasured possessions can weigh us down! I can’t say I’ve progressed to any degree of true minimalism – but I certainly feel a sense of freedom when I let go of things. And yes, it’s overwhelming to do that space clearing, but I found if I just spent a little time each day at it, that made a difference.
Thanks for reading, so glad you enjoyed – and thanks for your comment!
I think practicing (physical) balance is a useful exercise for any season — the balance poses I learned from yoga have been the most valuable part of my practice, as they help me stay grounded not only on the yoga mat but in interactions with people that previously would have left me feeling unbalanced. 🙂
@acordaamor Super good point you’ve got here! I notice that when I’m feeling ‘off-center’ in my personal interactions that I have much more difficulty holding balance poses in yoga or other exercise modalities. And yet, it’s a circle because if I make the time to practice such poses, they work to ground and center me – and then help for balance in my interactions with people and the world.
You’re right – balance exercises are helpful for any time of year, but I find it especially empowering to align myself with nature’s seasonal energy. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!
Hi Sarah, I have really enjoyed your ritual ideas and adapted several of them to create my own ceremony this morning. Thank you for this rich blessing, your article is very relevant and still appreciated, 3 years on!!